Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Benromach 10 100 proof versus Benromach 10 43%

Benromach 10 43%

The nose is sweet, slightly peaty, slight old school rubber, the palate is rich and sweet, the rubber is more in the texture than in the taste.Quite oily, the sweetness could be from port casks.

A nice dram, that has a lot to offer compared to other 10 and 12 year old standard bottlings from around Scotland

Score 86/100

Benromach 10 100 proof

This is 100 british proof, so 57.1%

A bit similar to the 43%, but a lot drier. I like the fact that it's not as sweet as the 43%. The peat, and the rubber texture is still there, but not as much as in the 43%. This whisky is very old school and reminds me of what I drank and tasted when i started up with whisky. Basically sweet, more sherryish than port, hint of peat and the finish is long, sweet and old school

This weirdly reminds me of sixities dumpy Cadenhead and Bowmore, I bet if you leave this in the bottle for 30 years you get something very special

Score 89/100

Drinking these gave me the idea that the new Benromach will be magnificient when it reaches 15-18 years. Both of these are tasty complex whiskies, and aimed more for the experienced demanding entusiasts than the casual drinker. The earthy, oily and sweet notes reminds me of old school whisky

Monday, April 6, 2015

Danish Whisky Blog Awards 2014

Distillery of the Year


Bung hole sniffer spotted at Deanston

The last 3 or 4 times I have visited Scotland, Deanston Distillery has been the most popular distillery in my groups when it comes to amount of bottles purchased. It's a distillery not on the radar of most entusiasts and that's a shame

The distillery itself is very interesting to visit as it is quite different to other distilleries. The buildings used to host a cotton mill, but was rebuilt into a distillery in 1966. The distillery also produces it's own power. It's a waterturbine where water from the river Teith is giving it's powerful contribution to the whisky lovers

Beside the interesting tour, the distillery buildings, which may not qualify as the most pretty in Scotland is situated in a very beautiful spot on the river bank. They do have bottle your own whisky available and usually there is a special bottling available as well if you are lucky. It may be a festival bottling or the latest batch of Deanston Toasted Oak. Especially the Toasted Oak has been a major hit in our group. Beide a range of tours, there is a shop and nice cafe. The only thing I miss on the tour is the guide opening a cask and giving us a wee taster

Independent Bottler of the Year

Smooth Ambler

Smooth Ambler is a distillery in east West Virginia. It is very limited what they have bottled from their own production still. When it comes to whisky that is. But until they are having aged stock from their own distillery they have set up a very succesful independent bottling range called Smooth Ambler Old Scout. Beside being totally open about this as sourced whisky (which not everyone sourcing whisky in the states is) they also manage to bottle a range of excellent and well vatted bourbon and ryes. And these are available in Denmark as well. The whisky is sourced from the distillery in Indiana that someone need to name. But it is usually referred to as MGP or LDI. Some of the whisky is also originating from Four Roses, probably barrels left by Seagram's in Indiana. This is the whisky of today that people will regret not have bought in five years. Unless you bought some off course

Bottling of the Year

SMWS 39.97 
23yo distilled 1990 45.7%

My whisky of the year. It has to be something good, I purchased a bottle and it have to be bottled in 2014 (or late 2013). At least it has to be something I got my hands on in 2014.

This is from Linkwood

The nose is delicate and fruity. I am talking apple and pears here. It's one of those whiskies where you can nose and dream away forever. The whisky itself is quite woody, maybe too much for some but I like this profile. It's a little bit weird whisky, it's delicate on the first taste but woody on the finish.  The whisky changes like a snap when I drink it. 

Easydrinking, complex, and my impression from when I first tasted this, was that this tasted like good whisky used to taste before the (whisky)world went crazy.. This has been the highest scoring whisky from all over blind tasting runs we have done (and that made it to a blog post, not all did)

Score 90/100

Tasting of the year

Cadenhead tasting at the Malts of Campbeltown whiskyfestival.
With Mark Watt and Grant Macpherson

In 2014 I went to the festival in Campbeltown. That was a very positive surprise. There were tours, tasting and events covering all three Campbeltown distilleries and also tasting and warehouse-tours with Cadenheads. My two favourite tastings were the Cadenheads warehouse tasting and the Cadenhead tasting. The Cadenhead tasting was presented by Grant Macpherson and Mark Watt in a very good shape. The first dram up was a blind, which caught quite a few. It was the delicious bourbon from Heaven Hill. Aged for 17 years and in Scotland since 2015. It was a cask sample but it was bottled just a couple of months later. In the tasting were a range of Cadenhead bottlings, including the very good Tomatin 1979 35yo. The highlight was a cask of 25yo Rosebank, rolled into the room (It was held in the maltings room) and sampled straight from the cask. And anyone who wished could purchase a bottle, which was drawn with a valinch straight into a your bottle on the spot. Tastings like this, or a festival like this is what it still makes it worth for me coming back to Scotland

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Diageo Lost the Tennessee Whisky War but wins in Kentucky

and bourbon can now be made from re-used barrels:

On May 13, 2013, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam signed House Bill 1084, requiring the Lincoln County process (which involves maple charcoal filtering) to be used for products produced in the state labeling themselves as "Tennessee Whiskey", along with the existing requirements for bourbon.
Diageo wanted to change these definition of Tennessee Whisky but failed. Instead they managed to change the definition of bourbon. I'll clarify below

Bill Haslam

The categorization of Tennessee Whiskey was orchestrated more or less 100% by Brown-Forman, who owns Jack Daniels Distillery, which by far is the biggest distillery in Tennessee, so big that bourbon expert Chuck Cowdery has named it "The Elephant in the Room". 

So far this law has been opposed by Diageo, which at first sight seems very odd. Diageo owns the 2nd traditional distillery in Tennessee, George Dickel. George Dickel and Jack Daniels are the two distilleries that historically has produced bourbon in Tennessee with the added twist of the Lincoln County Process, which is a filtering process prior to aging the whisky. Defining Tennessee whiskey  with the above requirements is a logical step to ensure the definition of whiskey that both Jack Daniels and George Dickel produces as the style of Tennessee Whisky. With several small distilleries opening in Tennessee, they were, before this law was enforced, able to make any style of whiskey and labeling it Tennessee Whisky. Not anymore (with one exception, Prichard's, but that's another story) 

So why is Diageo (George Dickel) opposed to this. Not because they wan't to alter the production methods of George Dickel. It's because they wan't to limit the growth of Jack Daniels

Brown-Formans Jack Daniels and Diageo's Johnnie Walker (a scotch whiskey) are the two leading whisky brands in the world when it comes to sales. The sales of Dickel is maybe 1% of that of Jack Daniels, so that is not a very important brand for Diageo saleswise. It may be strategically, but not when it comes to the economy of Diageo. If Diageo can manage undermine the "Tennessee Whiskey" style, they can get hit in on one of their biggest competitors. Because whisky american style is taking market shares from Diageo these days

Diageo ofcourse claims something else, as Chuck Cowdery writes in his blog:

"Diageo firmly believes a single company should not be able to unilaterally determine the definition of an entire category. At its base, it is anti-competitive and protectionist. Diageo supports a return to the flexibility that Tennessee whisky distillers have had for the past 125 years, up until last year when Brown-Forman convinced the Tennessee legislature to define Tennessee whiskey as the Jack Daniel’s recipe."

Diageo has mainly tried to change the aging definitions of Tennessee Whisky. They want to remove the part that states the whiskey has to be aged in NEW charred oak barrels and that it has to be aged in Tennessee

But with no luck so far. Instead Diageo managed to get in on Brown-Forman another way.

On a federal level, what constitutes Tennessee whisky is legally established under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and at least one other international trade agreement that require that Tennessee whiskey be "a straight Bourbon Whisky authorized to be produced only in the State of Tennessee". Canadian food and drug laws state that Tennessee whiskey must be "a straight Bourbon whisky produced in the State of Tennessee".

Bourbon is defined by The Federal Standards of Identify for Distilled Spirits 27 CF§5.22

By changing the requirement in §5.22 (b)(1)(i) that bourbon must be stored in "new charred oak containers" to "new or refill charred oak containers" The Federal Standards of Identify for Distilled Spirits has changed the way bourbon (and with that, Tennessee whiskey) is produced 

Personally I think this is grand work by Diageos lobbyists in Washington. Undermining the definition of the style of whiskey your biggest competitors produce, is going to make it possible for the big brand of Diageo, Johnnie Walker, to stop it's current recession and go into growth again. And that will be on expense of american whiskies, which hasn't been in recession like Johnnie Walker, but on a steady growth 

But I don't think this is good for the quality of bourbon we see. This is actually a sad day for bourbon fans. I do hope as many producers as possible will stick to the old definitions

Another thing that will backfire is the lack of used casks, which is allready in higher demand than supplies. The main part of scottish whiskeys is aging in ex-bourbon. I am pretty sure this will begin an era where scotch is aged in new wood and bourbon in refill casks!

I am not sure how this affect the bourbon produced in Japan and China